MERGER OF FEDERAL CIRCUIT & FAMILY COURT OF AUSTRALIA
On the 1st of September 2021, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia merged to become the new ‘Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia’.
The overarching purpose is to facilitate just resolution of disputes according to law and as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible.
The Court’s aim over time is to resolve more than 90 percent of family law matters within 12 months.
What Has Changed
If you are considering going to Court for your parenting dispute, you must first do the following things (provided it is safe to do so):
- Give a copy of Schedule 1 of the Federal Circuit & Family Court (Family Law) Rules 2021 to the other prospective parties to the proceedings;
- Make inquiries about the family dispute services available; and
- Invite the other parties to participate in family dispute resolution with an identified person or organisation, or other person or organisation to be agreed.
Family Dispute Resolution
To the extent that it is safe to do so, you and each other prospective party must:
- Co-operate for the purpose of agreeing on an appropriate family dispute resolution service; and
- Make genuine effort to resolve the dispute by participating in Family Dispute Resolution.
Family dispute resolution means trying to reach an agreement about your family law problems without going to Court. Mediation is a type of Family Dispute Resolution.
If You Reach Agreement
If you reach agreement with the other party, you may arrange to formalize the agreement by filing an Application For Consent Orders.
If You Cannot Reach Agreement
If you cannot reach agreement at Family Dispute Resolution or the other party fails or refuses to participate in Family Dispute Resolution or there is no appropriate Family Dispute Resolution service available to you, then you must give the other party written notice of your intention to start Court proceedings.
The written notice of intention to start a proceeding must set out:
- The issues in dispute;
- The orders to be sought if a proceeding is started;
- A genuine offer to resolve the issues; and
- A time that is at least 14 days after the date f the notice within which the proposed respondent is required to reply to the notice.
If any of the above circumstances apply to you, you can seek an exemption by either:
- Preparing and filing an affidavit – Non-Filing of Family Dispute Resolution Certificate, or
- If you are filing an Initiary Application seeking interlocutory or interim orders, you can outline the reasons relating to urgency and/or risk in your affidavit filed alongside the Initiating Application.
If you have been the victim of family violence or a child relating to the proceedings has been abused or is at risk of abuse, you must obtain information from a family counsellor or Family Dispute Resolution provider about the services and options available to you.
Obtaining the information from a family counsellor or FDR provider is not required where, in addition to the grounds listed above, the Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
- There would be a risk of abuse of a child if there were a delay in applying for the order, or
- There is a risk of family violence by one of the parties.
The Court’s new case management pathway places significant emphasis on providing dispute resolution opportunities to litigants to assist them in resolving, or better identifying the issues in dispute.
In the event proceedings are commenced, parties must be aware of the implications if they do not comply with the dispute resolution process which can include a costs order being made against them.
RN LEGAL has assisted many clients with family law matters. RN LEGAL has the experience, expertise, and resources to help you with such matters. Contact RN LEGAL on (02) 9191 9293 or [email protected] if you, or someone you know, requires advice or assistance in relation to any aspect of family law.